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Why does the location bar only perform searches, even typing about:config just returns a google search for "about:config"

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My location bar will only perform web searches and no longer takes the browser directly to web address entered manually. for example typing "about:config" returns the results of a google search for "about:config", typing "http://www.gawker.com" does not take me to gawkers website but rather returns google search results for "http://www.gawker.com".